School Administrator's Clip File • September 9, 2020
Five building blocks of family engagement
Nurturing relationships with families is more important than ever. Without their engagement and support, students suffer. Experts agree that effective family engagement programs do these five things:
- Provide opportunities for families to lead and share in decision-making regarding school policies and programs affecting their children.
- Promote clear two-way communication between the school and families about school programs and children’s progress.
- Help parents develop skills that foster positive relationships with their children and support learning at home.
- Involve parents in instructional and support roles at school (with appropriate training).
- Help families access the community and support services they need.
Engage parents from diverse cultures
Culture affects how we view time, personal space, body language, voice volume and small talk. Culture also dictates how parents view their role in educating children. Understanding these differences is a first step in bridging the cultural gap between educators and parents. It’s also important to:
- Be aware of your biases. Notice when you are making a judgment—positive or negative—about a student or parent. Ask yourself if this judgment comes from an assumption based on the person’s culture, education level or other factor?
- Become familiar with the holidays and traditions your students celebrate. Try not to schedule events that conflict with important dates or traditions.
- Build rapport with parents. Ask them to share their cultures and experiences with you.
- Make sure your school reflects diverse cultures from books and curriculum to content on social media platforms.
- Identify parent advisers. If you’re unsure of the appropriateness of materials or lessons, consult parent advisors.
“We all should know that diversity makes for a rich tapestry, and we must understand that all the threads of the tapestry are equal in value no matter what their color.” —Maya Angelou